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Sherry Pede


Long time before this generation, trains have been in use. They are a great benefit to business and individuals. Many years beforethe trains, ox carts were used to transport furs and other early products.

"The train is a labor saving device." said JamesJ. Hill, the empire builder who promoted train transportation. (1)

Hill knew that with a freight and passengers could movefrom place to place rapidly. After the railroad was built from Minneapolisto St.Vincent in 1878, the furs and other products could be moved fasterand with less work.

The first railroads in Kittson County were built hastilyand cheaply. And the farmer had advantages because he could have his goodscarried to market by train. This might be cheap but it gets it to whereit is going. The first railroads that were built were not done very wellbecause they did not have the best materials to work with.

In the United States, on the other hand, the railroad wasa path finder and pioneer.

As man emerged into history, he became a road-maker; thebetter the road, the more advanced his development.

There is a comparison between the rates charged by therailroads of this and those of other countries for a similar service. Becausewhen riding a short distance it doesn't cost as much as it would to rideonly a few miles.

When the steam engine and wheeled cart traveling on ironrails were first utilized for the transports of of persons and goods, theywere used in Europe as substitutes for already means of communication ofinferior quality.

The network of railroads in the Red River Valley is connectedwith all the railroads in the United States. At one time, two main roadscame into Kittson County. This was the Great Northern, and the Soo Line. But in 1967, the Soo Line discontinued its passenger services. And in1971, the Burlington Northern ended their rail passenger service too.

The railroad industry had grown in the past years. A millionand a half and two million employees are employed on the railroads. Thetotal salary paid to the railway employees in the United States is overone billion dollars annually. The wages are continuing to increase. Thepayroll is the main expense of all the railroads. "A railway can payout only what it takes in." (2)

But in 1972, the railroad business is in trouble becauseof all the freight being sent in by trucks. People travel by cars and airplanesnow.

The villages of Kittson County are all closely linked withthe passenger and freight service. They had various transportation routesin which they could use.

The steamboat was replaced by the train. Everybody wastalking about this railroad business and there was a short track built betweenSt. Anthony and St. Paul, which is only a distance of 10 short miles.

Then by 1872, the railroad was extended from Glyden, Minnesotato Warren. The tracks were later moved to Fisher which made it both a railroadterminal and a river port as well.

The construction of the railroad was delayed until 1877where Norman Kittson, James J. Hill took over the leadership. Under bothmen the railroad tracks were laid to St. Vincent by the fall of 1878. Atthis same time a Canadian railroad, the Manitoba, was being built from Winnipegto Emerson, Manitoba. Then on December 2, 1878, the two roads were joinedand the St. Paul, Minneapolis, Manitoba Railroad was born. In 1888, theyhad a customs house.

Then the railroads started to boom throughout the townsand villages of Kittson County. By this there were more stops being madea the little towns, and more people enjoyed riding the trains. All thepeople were interested to see just what was going on.

The Soo Line Railroad spans Kittson County from Lancaster,Karlstad, Halma, Orleans, and Noyes. Orleans, Lancaster, Halma, and Karlstadare the four towns sited and planned by the Soo Line Railroad.

Highway 75 follows the Burlington Northern to Noyes. Highway59 follows the Soo Line Railroad to Lancaster and then it continues on northinto Manitoba. There is another port of entry there.

Each railroad system can prosper only by having more trafficthan there was before.

The number of miles traveled per year by each freight locomotiveon the average increased 58 percent over a ten year period, and by-passingtrains 77 percent. Engines with more power were substituted for the smallones. On the Great Northern this was about 27 tons in 1901 and 35 tonsin 1909; and on the Northern Pacific the increase in the same time was from26 tons to nearly 34. In these years the tonnage increased not only 100percent but 120 percent or 1,569,989 tons.

The train service through Kittson County opened the roadfor immigrants and provided a way to ship out our products in the UnitedStates.


(1) (2) These are both quotes from James J. Hills, fromthe book "Highways Of Progress."



Highways of Progress . . James J. Hill, Published in 1969.A revised edition

Kittson County News . . . Library

Hill, Published in 1969.A revised edition

Kittson County News . . . Library